Can You Put A Low Flow Toilet In The Basement Human Waste As an Alternative Energy Source

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Human Waste As an Alternative Energy Source

With all the news about renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, even harnessing the energy of ocean waves, one often overlooked source of energy is literally right under our noses: human waste. It may not be as attractive or pleasant as the alternatives, but generating energy from human waste could be the most important of all. The world’s population is increasing every day along with the demand for energy and resources, and resources are becoming scarcer and more coveted. The only potential source that will increase in proportion to the population is own waste. Feces and urine are abundant and available wherever there are people. Currently, enormous amounts of energy obtained from the combustion of fossil fuels and (often drinking) water are used to process the aforementioned waste. New projects for composting toilets, biogas production, biofuel creation and even microbial fuel cells could allow us to reverse the cycle and harness this untapped resource.

Although skeptics believe that composting toilets will never succeed in the Western world, new and old technologies are being used to solve two problems: how to deal with waste and how to produce enough food without poisoning yourself and your environment with expensive chemicals. fertilizers. The next generation of composting toilets, such as the one made by Clivus Multrum, solves these problems and makes the system more attractive to consumers. The low-flow composting toilets they manufacture include a composter in the basement, and the service is included in the product. A much lower-tech version of the composting toilet is used by the non-governmental organization Estamos in Africa. Although the organization’s goals are to improve sanitation and reduce disease, their programs also help small farmers survive. The organization provides free composting toilets and has greatly improved the quality of life of many poor families. The organization’s director, Feliciano dos Santos, just won the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize for Ecological Remediation for this work.

Many countries have well-established methane capture programs that use animal waste, such as pig farms in Australia and cattle farms in the United States. What about the gas-generating potential of human waste? Developing countries are pioneering this technology as a way to save money and generate renewable energy. With the help of the International Heifer Foundation, rural farmers in Uganda’s Mukono district are mixing human feces and urine with other biological waste, such as water hyacinths and banana peels, to create biogas, using the byproduct to fertilize their fields. The biogas produced contains 60-90% methane and is used for lighting, cooking and some engines, and many residents are improving their quality of life and rising above the poverty line. Similarly, Cyangugu prison in Rwanda generates biogas from the excrement of its inmates. The Kigali Institute of Science and Technology built a prison digester that uses the resulting product to cook 50% of the inmates’ meals, saving $22,000 a year – a lot of money in Rwanda. However, developing countries are not the only ones exploiting man-made biogas. The Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant in Vancouver, British Columbia, once the subject of a lawsuit for violating federal pollution laws, has piloted a $1.1 million project to collect methane from city sewage and feed it directly into the ground’s distribution system. gas. The project, which is expected to start operating in 2009, envisages a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 500 tons per year and enough energy production to supply 100 homes. A similar project is underway in San Antonio, Texas.

Current discussions about plant-based biofuels focus on the competition between food crops and biofuel crops, and many experts worry that high demand for biofuels will exacerbate current food shortage problems. Several projects have tackled this issue by creating biofuels from algae grown on human waste. One of these is Aquaflow Bionomic Corporation, which harvests algae to be used in sewage treatment lakes in Malborough, New Zealand. The “green oil” they create from algae can be used for all the uses of crude oil, such as gasoline, diesel and plastics. In a more direct process, Canadian company Dynamotive Energy Systems Corporation feeds human waste directly into a biofuel production system using a “fast pyrolysis process.” The system achieves 80% efficiency by recovering waste gases and heat from the process, and the final BioOil® product can be used as a substitute for various petroleum products. One of the most high-tech and advanced technologies for extracting energy from human waste is the development of microbial fuel cells. The system developed by dr. Bruce Logan of Penn State’s engineering department, has been proposed as a way to remove waste treatment facilities from the grid. The fuel cell, which is still being improved to produce acceptable energy, uses wastewater to produce hydrogen fuel, with clean water produced as a byproduct. Although the technology is not practical for other fuel cell applications, such as hydrogen-powered cars, it can be used anywhere there is a large supply of biowaste.

Many people cringe at the thought of energy systems based on human waste and would rather not think about what goes down the pipeline, but as humanity becomes more demanding of energy, we must begin to embrace unconventional methods of producing it. With the increasing success of these projects, there is a chance to eliminate human waste pollution worldwide. One day our sewage may be called “brown gold” and could be more valuable than even crude oil.

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